Monday, February 06, 2006

The Problem With Politics

Here's something I probably shouldn't start, but here goes. There are a couple of different ways to look at the legislative process: 1) You can respect people's differences and work to advance your beliefs while they work to meet their goals. This means that sometimes you come out ahead, sometimes they do, and sometimes you meet in the middle; or 2) You can constantly lash out at your opponents, hurling invectives in a scorched-earth strategy, and alienate people on both sides along the way.

I've tried to follow the first path. Judging by one of her comments on her post on the General Assmbly's "uberliberals", Jill Stanek unapologetically opts for door number two. Jill started her post with Nazi-esque cartoon (which she at least realized was not the best way to win friends and influence people, and has since been taken down). But in one of her comments, she says the following about the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, an issue on which I worked long and hard with Rep. Brandon Phelps, as well as representatives from both sides of the choice issue (many of whom had never sat down together at the table before). While addressing an issue that had all kinds of major repercussions, we reached a compromise solution with which all groups were comfortable and which was seen as a major accomplishment.

At least that's my view of it. Here, in her own words, is Ms. Stanek's (For the record, although Jill and I rarely agree, I have in the past told her personally that I respected her passion. Maybe that's why I'm all the more troubled by this issue.) :
Born Alive 2005 caused a huge panic among IL GA liberals.

At first they dismissed it, as they had four prior years. Planned Parenthood came out against it, and the IL Med Society refused to endorse it. This put liberals in a bind when Born Alive began gaining steam.

The reason Born Alive 2005 got traction was because: 1) it was finally worded identically to the federal version, which passed unanimously in the US Senate; 2) pro-lifers were better organized and bolder.

Rep. Fritchey brokered a "compromise" that helped Planned Parenthood and IMS save face and gave pro-abort legislators a way to vote for Born Alive after they had come out against it.

The compromise was comprised of two unnecesary (sic) amendments stating Born Alive would not intrude on Roe v. Wade, and Born Alive would not intrude on accepted medical practices.

The amendments were unncessary because they were redundant. I didn't want them included, because we had the votes without them. I wanted to force uberliberals to vote against the bill. Go ahead, make my day. But I was overruled. And that is how Born Alive 2005 got through. (Emphasis added)
Here are the first problems that I have with her comments: First off, whether you liked the amendment or not, nobody on either side of the bill argued that it was redundant. Secondly, I can almost assure you that, without the amendment, that bill was not getting to the Governor's desk, let alone getting signed.

But the biggest problem I have is with this statement: I wanted to force uberliberals to vote against the bill. When you become more obsessed with political posturing or the destruction of 'your enemies' than you are about advancing your issues, you are devoid the very spirit upon which our system is predicated.

People will always, and in good faith, disagree about very substantive issues. And they have words for those people who want to quell dissent by simply eliminating their opposition, but I won't bandy them about here. During my years in the House, I think that I have become a better legislator by recognizing that among both friends and enemies alike, the level of respect that you receive will be commensurate with the amount that you give.

When passion and commitment turn to contempt and disrespect, nobody wins.


At February 5, 2006 at 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey:

Thanks for being one of the few elected officials who would have the guts to say what needed to be said about that. The blatant political posturing of Ms. Stanek is representative of most of what is wrong with politics today. Demagoguery has trumped honest debate, and we all are the poorer for it.

Every similar response posted at Illinoize or on her site was removed by Ms. Stanek.
So much for an open dialogue.

At February 5, 2006 at 9:31 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


I've already removed one post. I really wanted to start a discussion about the process and how it should work in theory. Can we try to do that?

While prompted by her comments, this post is not intended to declare open season on Ms. Stanek. I actually found her comments pretty surprising given her recent apparent efforts to reach out and work on issues.

But that's just it, when you make comments like the ones she is making, it may work from the stand point of revving up your base, but it makes it very difficult for anybody else to have trust in working together.

At February 5, 2006 at 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jill Stanek sees you as a baby murdering liberal. Her belief system does not allow compromise on the sanctity of life. To make a deal as you advocate as in door number 1, she would make have to essentially make a deal with the devil.

Where I find fault with Stanek is her unwillingness to save a few babies and then more, etc. instead of her rigid insistance to save all at once.

At February 5, 2006 at 10:00 PM, Anonymous Former Minion said...

There was no compromise on the sacntity of life in that bill. That is why even those on the right considered its passage to be a victory. Fritchey, Phelps and the others get a lot of credit, they faced potential problems from both flanks and still worked to get the deal done. That is how government should work, not via the methods of Stanek and Fred Phelps.

At February 5, 2006 at 10:58 PM, Anonymous The Scientist said...

I totally agree with you, Rep. Fritchey. I had commented to Jill's post that, as someone who believes that abortion should be restricted to cases where the mother was raped or her life is in danger, I believed that nuclear transfer experiments were completely moral as such cells created were copies of the donor's cells and not a new human being. Despite that, and the fact that I have put in countless hours volunteering for a pro-Life general assembly candidate, Jill had the audacity to say that because we disagreed on one point, I was a "pro-abort". Maybe she has spent too much time around the WorldNetDaily crowd, but she needs to learn that if you want to get things done, you will have to compromise and that no one in this world will agree 100% with you on any position. The best way to make sure that the positions you advocate never become law is to insult people.

At February 6, 2006 at 8:35 AM, Anonymous Chicagonian said...

Rep Fritchey, I noticed an error on your web site. On the pdf of how a bill becomes a law, you said that it takes a 2/3 majority of both houses for the GA to override a veto. However, as you know, that fraction is only 3/5 (2/3 is for Congress). Just thought I'd point that out if you didn't notice. Great Blog!

At February 6, 2006 at 2:01 PM, Anonymous Gish said...

Rep. Fritchey-

I agree with your statement and posted so on Ms. Stanek's comment section. However, as I believe someone who already commented in this comments section, Ms. Stanek is fighting against something which she may consider one of the worst evils ever perpetrated on society. She has in effect become somewhat fanatical. How can those of us who do not see the issue as strongly enter into 'discussions'?

I try to put myself in her position and ask myself if I felt as strongly would I be open to compromise? Probably not. When you consider it a good cause, a just fight, you go in full-tilt with victory in mind.

If a murderer held my family, I would kill them as best I could no questions asked. I would not enter into negotiations with them or compromise so they would only kill half my family. I imagine all of us would have the same reactions.

How do we enter into discussions with those that think we support the murder of innocents?

At February 6, 2006 at 2:12 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...


Good point and well put, thank you. Unfortunately, the time for the full and complete answer that your comment deserves eludes me right now.

Let me say two things: I respect anybody who pursues their belief with a passion, because I want them to extend the same to me. Two, I think when one's comments reach the point where people who share the same goals as you do feel compelled to step away, you may have crossed a line that you might want to revisit.

In the big picture, trying to reach consensus is virtually always the better approach then is trying to bulldoze and demean those with whom you disagree.

Now I realize that on the fundamental issue of choice, there truly is no consensus. The right will either exist or it will not. But on the myriad tangential issues that we deal with on an ongoing basis, and on other issues, be they business, social or education-related, my approach will continue to be to try to find common ground.

In this business, as in life, today's enemy may well be tomorrow's best friend. Best for everybody to remember that.

At February 8, 2006 at 12:14 AM, Anonymous Jill Stanek said...

Rep. Fritchey,

My apologies for my late entry into this discussion. It is a good one. It is also complicated.

A couple of your posters nailed it by understanding that the pro-life issue is not one we can ultimately compromise on. We will never rest until abortion is stopped. We will never go away.

That said, along the way, of course we must compromise. Do we want to save a few lives or none? That sometimes is the question. We understand full well the concept of incrementalism.

Re: Born Alive, we did not need to compromise. We had the votes. I'm sure you never compromise unless you have to. We didn't have to.

Additionally, believe it or not, we want to win the hearts and minds of legislators, not just their votes.

How do we do this? Of course, we try reason. We have the truth on our side. I'm confident of that.

But what if a legislator won't listen to reason? In the case of Born Alive, we had a great opportunity to force stubborn legislators to face themselves in the mirror before they voted against Born Alive - and hopefully wake up - or face constituents later and explain their radical vote against it. Then perhaps the constituents would decide to choose a representative more in line with mainstream thinking on the abortion issue.

The contents of that last paragraph comprised the reason why far left legislators, Planned Parenthood, and the ISMS wanted very much to compromise on Born Alive. (I'm not saying you're far left. I don't know.)

On a personal note, I did not mean to offend you when including your name on my post about Born Alive. I would much rather get along with you than stand in the Capitol hall screaming at one another... :) I would much rather work with you, as we were thisclose to doing very recently.

It's late. More another time....

At February 8, 2006 at 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jill Stanek is a one trick pony.

At February 8, 2006 at 10:43 AM, Blogger Jill Stanek said...

Anon, 2:50a - You think that portrayal bothers me, but it doesn't. It is a charge I welcome. You're right. I think about abortion practically from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep, and sometimes I expect I even dream about it. Holding a live aborted baby does that to a person, I suppose.

People usually become involved in the political process for a particular reason. Most of those reasons are worthy.

In 1824 a Methodist circuit-riding preacher named Peter Cartwright moved his family to IL "to get clear of the evil of slavery." Efforts to legalize slavery in IL compelled Cartwright to enter politics, and in 1828 and 1832 he was elected as an IL state rep. He helped keep slavery out of IL.

There's nothing wrong with a one-trick pony.


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